Grand jury declines to indict officers who shot, killed man in Southeast Austin in 2021
AUSTIN, Texas - In January of 2021, Alex Gonzales Jr. was involved in an alleged road rage incident with an off-duty police officer in Southeast Austin.
When backup arrived, two APD officers shot and killed Gonzales after they say he wasn't following commands.
However, family say Gonzales was checking on his girlfriend and baby who were both in the car at the time of the incident.
Gonzales' girlfriend was wounded in the shooting.
The family of Alex Gonzales filed a lawsuit in July, holding the city and police department accountable for Gonzales' death.
This week, a Travis County grand jury declined to indict the involved officers, Luis Serrato and Gabriel Guttierrez.
"It tells me they paid attention. I'll never know what went on and what evidence was presented or withheld, what witnesses testified," said Ken Ervin, who represents Serrato. "They came to the right outcome, which is Officer Serrato was justified at the time he shot Mr. Gonzales."
Scott Hendler, who represents the Gonzales family, said, "The fact that the grand jury did not choose to indict him tells me they were either not informed of what the law is properly or there was something else amiss because this is just an unconscionable shooting of an unarmed citizen in Austin."
Hendler plans to file a lawsuit on the family's behalf this Thursday or Friday.
"Officer Serrato and Officer Gutierrez are going to be sued in the civil court. For damages along with the City of Austin, and both officers are indemnified completely by the city," he said.
If awarded, a jury will determine damages.
"Alex's parents, Liz and Alex Sr, are angry, distraught, heartbroken that their son's death at the hands of Austin police doesn't seem to count enough. In this criminal justice system such that they're held accountable," he said. "They feel the criminal justice system has failed them."
Hendler made the same argument pointing fingers at the District Attorney's office.
"I'm very disillusioned in the assistant district attorneys who are responsible for this. I think the problem is that there are not seasoned enough assistant district attorneys who have been given the responsibility to take this on," he said.
Ervin has also been critical of the administration. He and his partner Doug O'Connell asked to present to the grand jury in Serrato's case, but their request was denied. Now the attorneys who represent a number of police officers plan to double down.
"Every case going forward, every police officer we represent under this current D.A. administration, yes. We will be asking to be let into the grand jury room," Ervin said.
When the District Attorney's office declined O'Connell and Ervin's request, they did offer to have Serrato appear before the grand jury, but the attorneys declined.
They say they will likely do the same thing if a similar scenario pops up in the future because they believe it's too risky if their clients do go to trial.